Never raced cyclocross before? Think it looks fun? Anyone that can ride a bike can race cyclocross, no racing experience is necessary. We put together this page to help you get started.
WHY RACE CYCLOCROSS?
Cyclocross is all about the friendships gained, well, and a little bit about the weather as well. It can be dusty, painful, muddy,hot, cold, rainy but that just makes it all the more appealing.You might even get heckled but at the end of the day it is cheers for anyone who tries it.
People that regularly race cyclocross love it and keep coming back year after year. Some use the Mullet approach: business in the front Party in the rear! But, There are a ton of reasons why:
- Community – The cyclocross community is what will bring you back. You may not know riders but everyone will still cheer for everyone. You’ll find, teams, friends and families, community tents to store your gear if needed and some smiling faces that may even ask if you need something to eat or drink. If you do it long enough you might find your home in the cyclocross community. We are like a huge family. think of it as a large family dinner with 1000 close friends.
- Competition – We design our courses and categories so everyone can race and everyone will have a different challenge for the day. Just show up and ride your bike. Maybe you will find a new competitive side of yourself or maybe your competition is all the other fun activities like our Grail Hunt.
- The Vibe– Whether you are here to be competitive or here for the good times. the one thing you will find is that everyone is welcome!
- Fitness– Test your ability that’s what it is about. It should be about your personal goals and that could be just to finish the race or to beat the person you lined up next to for the day. Racing will get you in great shape, no matter what condition you are starting in. You feel really good when you are done.
- Fun– At the end of the day this is what it is all about. Hand-ups? Just don’t get caught unless the officials agree that JoJo potato hand up can come back!
- And the best reason: You can never have too many bikes and if you want to get into it properly, then you might want to invest in a cyclocross bike. We use the model: current bike+1.
WHO RACES CYCLOCROSS at Cyclocross Crusade
All are welcome!
If you can ride a bike, you can race cyclocross. You don’t need to have been an ex-pro racer. You don’t need to be on a team. Just come out and try it and I bet you will like it!
We have categories to try to accommodate everyone. We have 4-year-old kids racing scoot bikes and over 70-year-old’s. You name it we have it. there are 27 categories to choose from.
- Fields labeled as “Men’s” or “Open” are open to all racers, including those that identify as male, female, or non-binary.
- Fields labeled as “Women’s” are open to racers that identify as women, and those for whom competition in the women’s field is most athletically or socially appropriate as defined in the Transgender Athlete Participation Policy.
If you are totally new, we suggest you race in the beginner category(Cat 5). If you won easily move up to cat 4. Afterwards talk to other racers in that field or other fields, find out the correct lines that should have been taken. We all started somewhere! Everyone is always willing to lend a hand. Oh, and don’t puke at the finish line. The officials hate that.
WHAT OUR CYCLOCROSS COURSES ARE LIKE?
Where a race is held influences the course layout dramatically and this means cyclocross courses can vary a huge amount. You’ll never get bored with repetition between courses. The most interesting part of the course, and what sets them apart from other cycle sport disciplines, is the obstacles. Obstacles like barriers, Monolith’s, sand or steep pitches that force you to dismount and run for a bit. The obstacles are what make this so fun.You will know where the best feature is based on all the cheers! Courses are typically 1.5 to 2 miles long and cover a variety of surfaces, Depending on the category you are in, you might do 3 laps or 10.
Some courses have sections that are more challenging to ride. If you can’t ride it then walk/run it! Some also become or have been known to become slip and slides in the mud!
Some venues lend themselves well to natural obstacles like steep banks, drops, and sometimes sandpits. Other times the organizers will introduce man-made obstacles like wooden hurdles – popular obstacles at all levels of racing.
What are the cones that mark these trails?
If cones are being used to mark the course red/orange cones will mark the right side and the yellow cones will mark the left side.
WHAT TYPE OF BIKE CAN I USE?
All bikes are legal! Even Tandems!
The most common bikes ridden are cyclocross and gravel bikes (Hey, what tire pressure you riding?)
Mountain bikes will work just remember hard tails work better than soft tails. Also remember the heavier the bike to start with, the heavier it can get in the mud. And the heavier it will be to carry across the obstacles or even on the run ups!
You will want some traction for the looser sections, We personally like the Donnelly PDX tires!!
At Cyclocross Crusade races, there are only three rules related to your bike:
1) Two working brakes at all times are a must
2) If you are racing the single speed category, you must have only one gear available (zip tying the shifter is acceptable)
3) No bar ends allowed
It’s not a bad idea to have your bike checked out by a mechanic unless you are one. There is nothing worse than getting on the first lap and having your bike fail (this leads to a long run or painful walk to the finish. We do have neutral support in the pit but they cannot do a complete overhaul onsite.
What’s special about a cyclocross bike? It looks pretty much like a road bike.
Cyclocross bikes have a design inspired by road bikes, but a road bike isn’t suitable for ‘cross. Cyclocross bikes have room in the frame and fork for bigger, Cyclocross tires (which are wider and have a higher air volume than road tires; plus a knobby tread), more mud clearance, a higher bottom bracket (to clear obstacles) and lower gearing compared to a road bike.
DAY OF THE RACE TIPS
It’s race day!
A few tips for you:
- Show up to the venue early, roughly 2 hours before your category starts (Just don’t show up before the crew at 6am! Sometimes the gates will still be locked!). This will give you plenty of time to find parking, get geared/set up, make sure your registration is correct, PROPERLY pin your number on, warm up or do a practice lap, and pee (or write the will they make it report).
- Take a practice lap on the course before your start. Getting one lap in before you start really helps you to feel more confident about what you are facing. Starting the race without seeing the course is not a fun way to introduce yourself to the sport! This is also a time to ask other riders what line to take. Unless you are in the very first race wave at the start of the day, you won’t have time to do a practice lap immediately before your race, so you’ll need to check the course preview times that are scheduled throughout the day. So, your practice lap might be 45-60 minutes before your start time. Just remember the course changes throughout the day.
- Get to the start line at least 10 minutes before your race starts. When you arrive at the start area you will see a bunch of flags. Line up next to the last digit of your race number and wait for call ups. We will call you up to the start line 5-10 minutes before your race starts, and you’ll want to make sure you are in the correct wave. (some race starts will use signs for categories)
- If you have any questions at all, please find one of our crew members or go to registration.
- Once racing has begun, warm up on the course is not allowed. There will be some short warm-up periods allowed; check on the race flyer or at registration to see posted times for Pre ride. Please do not ride while other categories are racing. You wouldn’t want someone to do that to you. The penalty for this may be disqualification.
- Cowbells are a part of Cyclocross so please get one and use; however, please do not ring any bells around the finish line. The bell signifies the last lap and oxygen-deprived competitors are easily confused. Take your cowbells to the obstacles, and ring to your heart’s content. The Swiss know cowbells!
- If an official removes you from a race, requests for you to put on a helmet, or any other request please follow their instructions. Failure to comply with requests from officials may result in you being excluded from racing in the future.
- If you have a suggestion or concern, contact the promoters, the Chief Official or Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA). Please do not complain to a volunteer or the property manager
- Be a responsible citizen. Poor behavior reflects upon us all. Don’t urinate in public, litter, drink alcohol when not allowed, ride across sports fields, or use foul language. Complaints from the general public make it very difficult to secure a location for races the next year.
- Have FUN!
Q: How do I line up at the Start?
A: At Cyclocross Crusade races you will line up next to a flag that is numbered between 0-9. Every race they are in a different order. The number on the flag corresponds with the last digit of your race number. For example 314 will line up by flag #4
Race day Checklist!
- Shoes / socks (extra socks for mud)
- Race outfit (shorts/bibs/shirt/skinsuit/sports bra)
- Chamois cream
- Race outfit for course preview
- Official race number / safety pins
- Cash / $5 (for parking fee at Rainier H.S.)
- Arm warmers / leg warmers
- Hydration (water, electrolytes, etc.)
- Water bottles
- lunch & snacks
- Towel(s) (for drying off)
- Outfit to change into after race
- Flip flops
- Mud boots / mud shoes
- Wallet / ID
- Garmin / bike computer
- Garbage bag (for muddy clothes)
- Garbage bag (for garbage — pack it in, pack it out)
- Hand sanitizer
- Rain coat or sunscreen( sometimes Both needed)
Common Questions Asked:
Q: How does the pit work in a cyclocross race?
A: Almost every cyclocross race has a pit, or technical area, where you can get repairs or even change bikes. At higher levels, riders have a dedicated pit crew to help them. In races that have a lot of mud, riders come into the pit and take a fresh, clean bike. Their mechanic cleans the dirty bike while the rider is out on the course. Changing wheels is slow, so in the event of a flat tire riders just change the entire bike!
More sophisticated riders have multiple wheels with different tire tread shapes, so they can even change from a slick to a knobby tire to suit changing weather or course conditions. Mechanics even tweak tire pressure slightly up or down to suit their rider’s preference so their bike handles better as the weather or conditions change.
If you’re an amateur, you might not have a dedicated pit crew, but you can still put a spare bike, tools, or wheels in the pit so you can keep racing in the event of a mechanical.
Q: Why don’t cyclocross races have a fixed number of laps?
A: At almost every level of cyclocross, both professional and amateur, races are of an unknown distance. You’ll know the time for your category, for example, “45 minutes”, but not the distance. A race advertised as 45 minutes means that the winner should take about 45 minutes to complete the race.
Officials watch the first lap or two to figure out how long most riders will take to ride a lap, and then post lap cards indicating 4, 3, 2, 1 laps to go as the race progresses.
Q: What does “Bell Lap” mean?
A: The final lap of the race. Usually the organizer rings a bell as each rider crosses the finish line with one lap remaining.Sometimes you won’t get the bell lap and you may just see the checkered flag. Just remember the laps are calculated off the leader of the race.
Q: Don’t the riders get cold/wet?
A: Yes. Some riders use embrocation to protect exposed skin and keep warm. It’s just part of the experience. Cyclocross is an all-weather sport, especially in the Pacific Northwest!
Q:What are the cones that mark these trails?
A:If cones are being used to mark the course red/orange cones will mark the right side and the yellow cones will mark the left side.
Q:I’m new to this how do I spectate and move around the course?
A: If you are unfamiliar with a cyclocross course it may be confusing to know the direction when there are no racers in sight. If cones mark the course red will be on the right side of the rider and yellow will be on the left side. When Crossing the Course, always use a designated crossing and look both ways. Allow plenty of time to cross- those racers are fast and they don’t want to have to slow down to avoid hitting you.